By Ayo Alonge,
Omolade Campbell nurtured her passion for entreprenureship from childhood and now heads Andrezion Solutions, an outfit into a state-of-the-art interior decoration.In this interview, Campbell shares her success story with Sunday Sun, while encouraging young entrepreneurs to follow suit.
When did you start your business?
I have been here for 16 years.
What impact did you hope to make when you started?
I intended to be known locally and internationally through transforming space into what people cannot imagine. I was passionate about it because I love meeting people. I can come to your house and tell you that your house isn’t looking good and I can fix it for you. That is the way I started. It started out of passion.
Are you saying you nursed the ambition as a child?
Yes, I should say I took up the job from my father but I have always wanted to be better than him. I started working with my father when I was only 20 years old. I knew I was going to be on my own.
How did you get the needed funds to start on your own?
Oh, it was very difficult for me. It’s hard to get people to trust you and they can refuse to give you an upfront to start up. I had people I was getting stock from on credit and I paid them as I completed the jobs. Most of the jobs we get are from referrals. By the time you do a very good job for people, they would refer you to other people. That is the most important thing about the business.
Did you go for any formal training for the job?
Of course I went to a higher institution and had a diploma from the University of Ife and even from Lagos State University. Right now, I am taking a degree course at the National Open University (NOUN). I have also attended an interior designing school to learn colour combination just to enhance my proficiency. My husband is a graphic artist and can do 3D designs for me. With him, I can match colours and improve what I do.
Is it a family business?
It’s not what my husband does but my father and siblings are very much into it. My two siblings work with me.
Looking back, how has business been, 16 years down the line?
It has been very good for me, by God’s grace.
What are major challenges that come with the business?
There are a lot of challenges that we face. One of them is doing a job for clients and they refusing to pay promptly. A lot of people are owing us. That is a major challenge. Some won’t also appreciate you whenever you go the extra mile for them. They confess that your job is good but they can’t just afford to pay. Some are owing for four to five years, and even more. You know Nigerians don’t like to pay when they are owing you. That has been very challenging but a woman was supposed to pay us N700,000 but she gave us an additional N100,000 because she really loved the job we did for her. So, some people appreciate it when they see good work. We are all humans but as an organization, we try to manage people and ensure they’re getting value for their money.
Would you quit the business, if you had your way?
I won’t. I can’t quit, because it’s my passion. It’s not always about money but about fulfillment. If it has been all about money, I won’t be here. This is about making myself very happy. I won’t quit, not for money and not for any challenge. It is the challenge that brings out the best of me.
What do you do in the area of training other people on the business so they can start on their own?
I do a lot of training. Some of the guys here are under training. I developed interest in training when people develop passion for the business and walk up to me to have me train them. Someone came all the way from Port Harcourt and another from Ibadan, just to train.
What plans do you have for the business in the area of growth?
I have a lot of plans for that. I have done lots of job that you can verify. Recommendations too are there to refer to. Currently, I am partnering with a company in China to improve on the business. This is all in a bid to improving quality.
Do you plan to involve any of your children in the business and why?
Yes, I do. It’s because the job makes you go places and you get to know a lot of people within a short time. I have a child who likes such and it’s just that I don’t know if he would be interested in interior decorations.
Frankly speaking, how much money do you make in the business?
I can only say that with the job, I’m able to keep body and soul together.
What do people need to know about interior decoration?
People need to know that they need interior decorators to manage their spaces for them and put fine touches to their houses. These days, you don’t need too much loads in the house. You make it spacious. A decorator can mix your colours for you and that makes it good. Some may not even know that for their windows, they don’t even need curtains but window blinds. The positioning of the bed is also what people need to take cognizance of. There are so many things about interior decorations, anyway.
Many people out there may not know how lucrative this venture is. What do you have to say on that?
Those out there wouldn’t know better but we that do it know that it is lucrative. It is very lucrative. Some people pay for quality services. They tell you all to do for them and they pay for all that. It’s very lucrative.
What challenge do you face at the ports when your goods are being cleared?
I know my way around the Customs Service. It is a norm. I am not new in the business. It’s about doing the right thing at the right time. You are to know what the government tolerates and since we are not into contrabands, then, we should transact business freely with the Customs.
Is it possible we begin to source these materials locally?
Yes, if we bring in all the machinery down to Nigeria. We can begin to source materials like the paper, the blinds and cotton. If we can make ankara in Nigeria, then we can make real cottons too.
What can government do to boost local production of these materials for interior decoration?
They should encourage entrepreneurs like us. We know the rudiments of the business. Government can even create jobs for people through local production because it would be cheaper to produce here. We have a lot of people that know the job very well. All we need is just the machinery. The government can even make it a governmental project. We have a ready made market for all that because a lot of people are very much interested in making their homes and offices look good.
How many people can this venture accommodate at a time, if run on a very large scale?
So many jobless graduates can be employed doing this business and that would really help.
Has the government fared better in the area of youth empowerment?
Youths should stop looking for jobs. They should be creative. There is money in selling wood at the moment. It is not for us to start looking up to the government to provide jobs that are not even there.
Could you tell us about one of your biggest breakthroughs?
I was introduced to a particular woman and she enjoyed the job I did for her. She was so happy and she paid immediately.
How much did she pay for the job?
It was about N2.8 million.
How do you manage difficult clients?
That? I know how to manage people . As you continue on the job, you would have to keep learning to know clients that are very meticulous . For me, I have learnt that. I can even spend a month just trying to satisfy a client. If I have still not satisfied the person, people would know that I have tried my best and the client is the one that has issues.